Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea

Antarctica Cruise

  • Akademik Ioffe
  • Research Ship
  • 96 Capacity
  • 12 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : Spend 11 nights aboard a comfortable and well-appointed vessel exploring the Weddell Sea, Falkland Islands, and Antarctica. Throughout your adventure, your highly experienced and personable expedition staff will provide excellent customer care in a casual and active environment--daily hikes, kayaking excursions for those who sign up, and daily Zodiac rides. Chart a course through the Drake Passage and make your first landfall in the South Shetland Islands on the way to the Weddell Sea. Over the Christmas holidays, spend a few days among the islands of the Weddell Sea’s western shore in search of Emperor penguins, the largest of the 17 penguin species and the most vividly colored. Hardy adventurers or those with a yen for history have the chance to camp out on the ice overnight and feel the thrill and audacity of early explorers who attempted to conquer this continent. The departure from the Weddell Sea will take you north to the Falkland Islands for the possibility of seeing King penguins before disembarking in Port Stanley.

Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia

Today is the first day of your adventure. Board the Akademik Ioffe in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city at the tip of Argentina. As you start to become familiar with ‘your home’ for the days ahead, you cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead. In the early evening, set sail and begin your voyage, leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.

Day 2 – 3
Drake Passage

Crossing the Drake Passage, there is so much excitement in the air as you make your way ever closer to the white continent. Soak up the friendly atmosphere onboard as numerous Polar experts prepare you for the adventures with presentations on everything Antarctic, from wildlife and exploration history to glaciers, and ice. Eventually, cross the Antarctic Convergence where you will notice a distinct drop in temperature as you enter the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Along the way, witness many spectacular sights from icebergs to an array of seabirds and maybe even whale and dolphin sightings.

Day 4
South Shetland Islands

Make the first landfall in the South Shetland Islands, a chain of islands known for their more maritime climate and abundance of wildlife. Cruise these volcanic islands in search of chinstrap penguin rookeries, perhaps the wafting ‘steam’ of a southern elephant seal wallow or the signs of exploration left on the beaches in the form of tri-pots and abandoned whaling stations.

If weather permits, visit Deception Island with a goal of visiting the chinstrap penguin rookery at Baily Head. If weather precludes this, attempt a landing inside this active volcanic caldera. With rugged scenery, great sites of geologic interest and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific exploration history, Deception Island is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history. For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge.

Day 5
Antarctic Sound

At about 25 nautical miles long and about 10 nautical miles wide, the Antarctic Sound separates Joinville Island from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. As you sail into the sound, look starboard to see the vastness of the Antarctic icecap, imagining the sweeping katabatic (gravity-driven) winds that this region is famous for.

Day 6 – 7
Weddell Sea

The only discernable difference as you sail into the Weddell Sea will be an increase in the number of large tabular icebergs and the presence of sea ice. The goal will be to explore the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and its offshore islands. In particular this region is home to Adelie penguin rookeries of astonishing size. Maximize the time onshore, as well as in inflatable landing craft, absorbing as much of the wilderness and beauty as possible. Planned excursions may include Paulet Island, Brown Bluff and even the southerly Snow Hill Island, where you will observe Weddell and elephant seals and other seabirds, as well as a shocking abundance of penguins.

One of the excursions will be planned with the aim of landing on the physical continent of Antarctica itself and not just on an offshore island. There are a few landing spots that will fall into this category and, as you visit them, some may pause to consider the bravery and/or foolhardiness of those who traveled a hundred years before. To gain a better appreciation of those explorers, some may choose to camp ashore overnight. Whatever your vantage point, whether onboard or from shore, expect to feel transformed as you experience twilight from the very bottom of the planet. As you sail south among the islands of the Weddell Sea’s western shore, you are in the realm of the Emperor penguin, the largest of the penguins, and everyone will be on deck keeping a lookout. Late on Christmas Day, you virtually backtrack along the same route the ‘Endurance’ drifted, heading northwards on your sea journey towards the Falkland Islands.

Day 8
Elephant Island

As you approach Elephant Island by ship, marvel at the incredible hardiness of the men of the Endurance expedition who sailed small boats to Elephant Island from the ice edge. Their landfall at a tiny outcropping on the North shore of Elephant Island must have been a marvelous feeling for them. The landing site is called Point Wild, named after Frank Wild who was Shackleton’s second in command and the boss of the camp on Elephant Island. Attempt a landing at this notoriously challenging landing site before continuing North to the Falklands.

Day 9 – 10
At Sea

While sailing across to the Falkland Islands, onboard polar experts will recap the Weddell Sea adventures and prepare you for the days ahead.

Day 11
West Point / Saunders

Explore the islands of West Point and Saunders, both in the West Falklands Archipelago. West Point is known for its bustling rookeries of rockhopper penguins while Saunders Island has four species of breeding penguin including gentoo, Magellanic, rockhopper and your goal for the Falkland Island visit, the king penguin.

Day 12
Port Stanley

In the early morning, arrive into Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transferred to the airport in Port Stanley for the scheduled flight to Santiago, Chile.

Notes

The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.

Mandatory Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance which must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter) and personal liability. It must cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested.

Camping Option: No additional supplement.
No pre-booking required. If conditions are suitable and you choose to camp on the continent, all the required gear such as a few tents, bivy sacs and sleeping bags, will be provided. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations. A portable outhouse tent is used and absolutely everything is transported back to the ship afterwards.

Sea Kayaking Option: $795 per person
Pre-booked option for up to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. There is a separate document for sea kayakers that you will need to review beforehand. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFD's, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies and many other vital paddling accessories.

Hiking Excursions: No additional supplement
No pre-booking required. Trekking poles are available onboard for passenger use and instep crampons will be provided if necessary to improve traction on slick surfaces. Sturdy hiking books and warm hiking socks are needed to join this activity. Hikes will be 2-3 hours in duration and will involve negotiating challenging terrain without the assistance of trails. Antarctica hiking rewards with images of snow, ice, mountains, and glaciers.

Photography: No additional supplement.
An onboard photographer is available to work with you throughout the voyage to help you improve your photography and encourage you to look at scenes or events in a different way in order to capture them digitally. Also available is an onboard multimedia download studio with computers, cables, and hard-drives for back-up storage and for creating DVDs of your images.

Included:
Accommodation aboard the ship; all meals during the voyage prepared by onboard professional chefs; afternoon tea with fresh snacks each afternoon; coffee, tea, hot chocolate throughout the day; all Zodiac excursions; extensive program of relevant educational presentations; advice from experienced team of naturalists; overnight camping gear; foul weather gear set (pants/jacket/wellington boots OR waterproof backpack/waterproof binoculars/wellington boots); use of multimedia station; welcome reception; welcome dinner; farewell dinner hosted by Captain; 'Memory Book' (log book chronicling your trip, includes photos); onboard medical officer; pre-departure information; hairdryers available on request at no charge; transfers from the meeting point in Ushuaia to the pier to board the ship on day 1 of the cruise and transfers from the pier to the meeting point or airport on the last day of the cruise.

Not Included:
All airfare; visa and passport fees; airport departure taxes; pre-cruise or post-cruise meals, transfers, and hotel accommodation; personal laundry charges; postage; telephone calls; drinks; medical expenses; trip interruption and cancellation insurance; travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (required); gratuities to staff and crew; private fitness sessions; massage therapy; fee for optional programs.